2-Day Escape to Union Island
It was the end of June and after months of waiting, the time had finally come for my Union Island getaway! I rose early that morning to be greeted by windy, rainy, grey skies, but they could not dull my anticipation. This was my getaway: the brief pause in my vacation where I actually relaxed and did nothing for two days! I landed in Union just after 10:30 am and by 11 am was outside the front gate of St. Joseph’s Guesthouse craning my neck to see Felicia, the assistant to the director, beckoning to me from the 3rd floor. This was it! I felt like The Sound of Music’s Maria taking in the huge von Trapp mansion for the first time, wondering what new life awaited me behind its massive doors. I know, I know. It’s not that serious.
St. Joseph’s easily became my stay of choice after visiting it on a previous trip. The simple, sunny rooms offer options for everyone, from communal rooms for the avid kite sailing group to a private sanctum for the soul-seeking sojourner. My 3rd-floor room opened out to a balcony with panoramic views of Palm Island, Petit Martinique, Petit St. Vincent, and Carriacouto the south. My mornings and evenings on the balcony were tranquil (I was the sole guest) and breezy, the palms swaying effortlessly in unison with the hum of the wind and waves. One night, the black silence was broken only by the distant sounds of a lone saxophonist’s rendition of the Beatles’ Hey Jude.
Very-late starting days (after 10 am) were spent lazing on the beach and enjoying local fare. Day 1 found me at the idyllic Sparrow’s Beach Club, a kind of mini-resort tucked away on a secluded arc of beach on Union’s north coast. The beach club consists of an assortment of pink- and purple-decked thatched-roof eating areas, beach umbrellas, a spa room, and a small pavilion-type structure that became my personal hang out for the day. The waters are shallow, calm, and perfect for even the novice swimmer.
On the second day, I wandered over to the beach by the Anchorage Yacht Club near the airport. Before choosing my nap spot I filmed some baby sharks in a shallow pool in front of the club’s restaurant and then found a pearly mound of discarded conch shells to use as a photo backdrop. From then on it was pure napping and gazing out at the mini-harbour dotted with anchored fishing boats. When the sun rays slicing the palm shadows on my legs got too much, it was time to go.
Shark pool in front of the Anchorage Yacht Club Restaurant
This was the time to meet locals, who I’d discovered from my ride to Sparrows are very proud to share Union with its visitors. That day, on the twisty journey through narrow country roads, the driver pointed out what I thought to be rather ordinary sights such as churches, schools, his house of birth, and his sister’s travel agency. However, on the second day when a local shopkeeper invited me to try on some coconut-shell jewellery and another Islander shared of his endeavours to increase Union’s tourist appeal, it struck me that these people were simply proud of their small paradise and welcomed any opportunity to promote it. The following day, I would leave Union truly feeling like a part of it had left with me.
Of course, no story of any place would be complete without mention of its food! Sparrow’s fish burger and fries were OK (the ambiance totally eclipsed this!) but a bit pricey for me. It’s out of the way and next door to a high-end hotel, though, so that offers some explanation. The best food experience caused me to return the same day for the same dish: a panini at the Snack Shack, a laid-back, rustic-looking place in the heart of town. The panini (my first ever!) was a warm, savoury medley of vegetables and melted cheese and the fruit smoothie was REAL: no ice, no syrup; just bona fide thick, fruity, pulpy goodness. Next door, Captain Gourmet’s ham-cheese-vegetable baguette made for a light tasty breakfast on day two. The small, casual joint also serves as a mini-supermarket for transiting yachts needing anything from ice to wine to…. breakfast!
Thus, my mini-escape to Union Island. Yes, its golden beaches, smiling faces and dreamily unhurried atmosphere draw you in and threaten to hold on tightly, but for me, these elements merely floated on the periphery of what I was really after that small, intimate space and time in which I could drift away, breathe deeply, be without needing to be, and just really wrap myself in total solitude. THIS was my getaway, my time to be away, and the time invested in myself would prove more than worth it.